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36 J. Air L. & Com. 514 (1970)
Current Trends in Aviation Product Liability Law

handle is hein.journals/jalc36 and id is 532 raw text is: CURRENT TRENDS IN           AVIATION      PRODUCT LIABILITY         LAW
T HE DISPUTES that today bring people into the courts reflect all
too clearly the society in which they arise. A striking example of
this can be found in the extent to which the litigation currently glutting
our courts mirrors our increasing dependence upon the products of
American research and technology. I speak of product liability litigation.
We have integrated into our daily routines such things as television,
powerful automobiles, jet aircraft travel and a variety of gadgetry with-
out having the slightest conception of how most of them function. If
one of these space-age miracles runs amuck, we simply call the repairman.
However, if an injury results from the use of one of these products,
whether it be an automobile, airplane or an underarm deodorant, Amer-
icans go to court and ask twelve laymen to decide exactly what went
wrong. As Samuel Butler somewhat dourly observed, the public does not
know enough to be experts, yet knows enough to decide between them.
The refinements of contemporary science have made the products of
our daily use increasingly complex so that even the highly qualified
scientist has difficulty in communicating with his fellow scientists con-
cerning their internal operation. The chief reason for this is that the
domain of science has countless subdivisions and each subdivision has
its own lexicon. The result is what someone has called the barbarism of
specialization. The very science that has made possible the creation of
this wonderful and bountiful productivity is erecting a Tower of Babel
whose builders do not speak one another's language. The lawyer, for
purposes of his own understanding and for presentation of an under-
standable case to a lay judge and jury, must translate the knowledge of
the most exotic scientist to the simplest, most easily understood language.
The lawyer's need to simplify eliminates many of the fine distinctions for
which scientists develop their own special terminology.
This need to simplify and to clarify on the part of the lawyer makes him
very unpopular with the scientists with whom he must now work. The
tentative nature of many of the scientists' conclusions are a real problem
for the lawyer. For a jury, the lawyer wants a simple story, told as the rock-
bottomed gospel truth. On the other hand, to the man of science, all
scientific findings are only tentative truth, good until further notice, to
be immediately discarded when some other expert develops another
t B.A., West Virginia University; LL.B., West Virginia University School of Law; Member of
American and West Virginia State Bar Associations; Member and Director of Aviation Committee,
Federal Bar Association.

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